Left to battle depression, spinal cord paralysis and deafness, 39-year-old Nathan Umana says he is also contending with the anxiety of official neglect.
A father of four, Mr Umana’s high hopes of building a career in engineering, with a beautiful family to complement, was cut short when one month after his marriage, a fatal workplace accident changed his life for the worse.
With tears in his eyes, Mr Umana struggled for strength to tell PREMIUM TIMES the story of how the April 14, 2015 accident at a construction site in Jabi lake mall kept him in a state of coma for four days and still threatens to take his life.
“I was inspecting the work because my departmental head was on leave. It was during that time that the building collapsed with me underground,” said an apparently weak Mr Umana, whose vocal strength had also been impeded by the gory incident.
With one word after another, Mr Umana battled to paint the picture of the incident as well as he could.
According to the 39-year-old, he was employed in 2012 as a grade four engineer at Bouygues Construction Company after obtaining a national diploma certificate in mechanical engineering.
After three months of working with the firm, Mr Umana’s appointment was confirmed by the Nigerian branch of the France-based international company.
For Mr Umana, the experience of working with Bouygues construction appeared promising, with a monthly earning which ranged from N70, 000 to over N80, 000, depending on the nature of work days; until that life-threatening incident proved insuperable.
As aptly put by Mr Umana, the location was a normal construction setting.
With machines, compactors and other building equipment on the ground, the young man was at the base of the building.
Suddenly, like the earth plunged by an earthquake, the three-storey building fell on Mr Umana.
“I don’t know whether it was the compactor or the roller that fell directly on me. But it really affected me. I was in a coma for four days. When I gained consciousness, I could not recall anyone or anything. I suffered a loss of memory for three months. I also began having hearing impediments and intermittent mental instability,” Mr Umana said.
Expectedly, Mr Umana’s employers began the process for his recovery.
However, that decision by the construction company was also militated by the zeal for funding.
According to Mr Umana; after a specialist centre known as the ear nose and throat (ENT) clinic located in zone four area of Abuja recommended the provision of a hearing aid worth N500,000 for him, Mr Umana explained that Bouygues Construction Company hesitated to buy the hearing aid because “the cost was rather high.”